There is a Hebrew saying from the Talmud. It says, “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”
I survived Mr McNeany’s funeral. If your husband died, he gave you a job. Hungry, he’d send groceries. Need a referral for a job? He’d write you a glowing report. He wrote one for every job I applied for.
In recent years at the cemetery, he would see me near my father’s grave. “How are you sunshine?” he would yell. As he moved closer he would ask “Do you need anything?” I would always answer that I was fine, even when I wasn’t.
As I sat in the pew of the cathedral and listened to the readings and stories about Mr. McNeany’s life, I pondered how different the business leaders are today. It is all about greed, profits and a golden parachute. So very different from this man we pay honor to on this Wednesday afternoon. A service that lasts two hours and spills out of the cathedral onto the street.
All the men dressed in their finest business suits, the women in dark dresses. They say Californians are too casual and disrespect with their dress at important events, but Mr. McNeany’s funeral would prove this completely incorrect. All the men gave up seats for the women, so when the service began, one could cast their eyes around the standing-room-only crowd and find only men in suits standing proudly. It was Santa Rosa old school: dignified and respectful.
I remember the college parties at the McNeany home when Mr. McNeany would be in New York for the fall buying trip. A group of about 50 of us would converge on the McNeany compound, dressed to the nines, because in our college days we loved to dress up at night. We’d play pool, cards, drink and laugh and try to avoid being tossed in the glimmering swimming pool. All the girls wanted John … I wanted Allen. I was always different.
Sometimes we would go out dancing, other times make food in the kitchen. We were a group of people that liked and admired each other. I can say that I never heard one derogatory remark about anyone. In fact, a group of the guys tried like hell to make sure I wouldn’t date Bob the local basketball star a few years older. They found him arrogant, bitter and bad news. Did I listen? No – hey he was 6’7″ – the first time I could wear five inch pumps and still reach up to kiss him. I felt small. I expected him to be fun.
Until he opened his mouth. It didn’t last long.
As I sat staring towards the alter of the church these many memories flood my mind and I wonder where the years have gone. Denise sits next to me, leaning in, telling me who she sees. We all look so much older. Where in the hell did all the gray hair come from? Denise is eying the men to see if there were any I could catch on their next go around. She’s a nut.
The Wake was held at the Polo clubhouse at Oakmont in the Valley of the Moon. Just like the parties at the McNeany’s, there was plenty of food, drinks and laughter. Long lost friends hugged and reunited. Mr. McNeany would have loved it. It was good to see his children laughing and enjoying the tribute to their father.
It seems like yesterday when I too, walked that long church isle behind my father’s coffin, and Laura stepped out from her family, took my hand and walked out with me. She is now married to Joe. It is funny the twists and turns our lives take.
Someday it will be me.
Until next time-